Blue Ant Media: Staying (Storage) Independent with the Signiant Platform

The Setting

Blue Ant Media is a fast-growing content creator and media distributor based in Toronto, Canada, recently acquiring marblemedia and Distribution 360. Their footprint grows yearly with more content moving between locations and people. 

The Challenge

Blue Ant Media’s IT department plays a crucial role in procuring and overseeing technology that aids their content creation teams, who operate remotely from multiple locations and utilize diverse storage endpoints. A primary focus lies in ensuring rapid and secure file transfers. Additionally, they prioritize versatile technology solutions and offer pricing that aligns with business value and accommodates the variety of storage systems they employ. 

The Solution

Signiant met Blue Ant Media’s needs through Media Shuttle, offering rapid file transfer, high-level security, and dependability. Media Shuttle’s ability to work with diverse storage solutions is crucial for the success of their business activities. 

The Value

The Signiant Platform equips Blue Ant Media’s IT department with the capability to manage global content flow efficiently. Thanks to Signiant’s storage independence, Blue Ant Media has the flexibility to utilize any storage solution they need, whether it’s on-premises, cloud-based, file or object storage, all while benefiting from a predictable pricing structure. 

The Background

Canada-based Blue Ant Media is a content creator and distributor specializing in factual series, children’s programming, award-winning documentaries, and natural history shows. They’ve produced more than 7,000 hours (about nine and a half months) of premium content, reaching 200 major television markets worldwide. Blue Ant Media sells programming to local cable operators and distributes their channels globally. They operate their own linear channels and distribute via FAST, VOD, SVOD, AVOD, Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. Their most recent and highly anticipated documentary, “Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make Believe,” about an iconic Canadian television show, premiered on Amazon Prime in October 2023.  

Since forming in 2011, Blue Ant Media has grown yearly, most recently expanding with the acquisition of marblemedia and Distribution 360.  

The Transition to 4K 

In 2013, as Blue Ant Media began distributing 4K content globally, the transition to the 4K realm brought about apprehension. Conventional methods of file transfer, such as sending hard drives or utilizing FTP, faced challenges due to the growing demands of global production and the larger file sizes, highlighting the inadequacies of these traditional approaches. 

“Back then, with the number of hard drives flying in and out [and with] our storage not centralized — it was very difficult,” Andrew Marescotto, Blue Ant Media Director, IT and Program Management, emphatically said. “We used to run FTP internally. It was a nightmare. We always had problems hosting it. It wasn’t secure at all.” 

With new file formats and increasing file sizes, Blue Ant Media couldn’t count on older technologies anymore. They needed a change. 

The Solution 

Key to Blue Ant Media’s success and phenomenal growth is a belief in a collaborative approach and building long-standing, mutually beneficial relationships with all their partners. One of those long-standing partners is Signiant.  

“I made the decision to go with Signiant. It was between Signiant and Aspera, and Signiant won,” Marescotto said. 

The Blue Ant Media IT team did their due diligence, putting Signiant and Aspera through their paces and evaluating each offer carefully to decide which was the best for their workflows and business needs. 

“Signiant won because Aspera charges per gig of usage, and we can’t afford that. We’re based on users and that model has been working very well for us, and that is why we haven’t moved. It’s going to be hard to look at anything but Signiant,” Marescotto said. 

Ensuring rapid delivery of completed programming is vital to Blue Ant Media’s business model. Marescotto’s four-member team, based in Toronto, handles IT operations while the Media Services team oversees the receipt and distribution of finished content. Adopting the Signiant Platform and its person-to-person file transfer software, Media Shuttle, enabled Blue Ant Media to centralize their content deliveries, enhancing efficiency and expediting the process of moving content into and out of their facilities. This transition marked the end of concerns about locating content on specific hard drives and doubts about their operational reliability. 

Now, Blue Ant Media uses Signiant Media Shuttle to deliver content files to and from producers, either in the full 4K RAW format or the final product or delivering content worldwide to other channels. 

“We needed to push content quickly to our customers and receive content from producers without delay. That’s where [Signiant] is really important for us: to deliver on time and quickly and with ease. That’s one thing that’s great about it. It was a night and day difference,” Marescotto said. 

“Because we’ve gotten rid of FTP, we trust Signiant as a security portal because it allows us to have content moving out of our buildings very confidently. Sometimes [Signiant] is aware of something happening before we know about it. That’s the biggest thing, making sure people are aware of it. That’s a plus for me from a security perspective.” 

The Signiant Difference 

For every production company, storage is a critical element, but it holds particular significance for Marescotto and his team at Blue Ant Media. They utilize and access a diverse range of storage types and locations. Signiant’s capability to seamlessly integrate with any storage system, whether it’s on-premises or cloud-based, is immensely beneficial to Blue Ant Media.

“We’ve had so many different variations. We keep going back and forth, and storage can be very expensive at times. If we move to another platform, I can switch storage in the background agnostically. We don’t have to worry about Signiant accepting them or not. That is great functionality.”  

Marescotto knows Signiant can handle anything they throw at it, touching multiple storages at once, updating or upgrading storage without Blue Ant Media having to worry about it. “We can always upgrade and always make sure our storage is all up to date without having that worry in there,” he remarked. 

Winning Trust Year After Year 

Despite their past and current satisfaction, Signiant must win Blue Ant Media’s business every year; it can’t rest on its laurels. Blue Ant Media reevaluates its technical choices yearly to ensure they work with the right partners. 

“The bar goes up every year. If Signiant is not saving the day, I’m going somewhere else; I’m jumping ship. But I haven’t been. 

“I ask my Media Services guy, ‘Are we good with Signiant?’ It’s been running great. There have been no issues. Signiant has been good to us. The pricing is set well. We’re not dissatisfied at all.” 

“It comes to simplicity. It saves us time. It saves effort from staff. It saves us from not having to go to another vendor to switch storage,” Marescotto believes. “Signiant is saving the day every day for us.”

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